Chicago Cornea Consultants Logo

Is a Cornea Transplant Really Necessary?

When you think of medical transplants, you probably think of major organ transplants. However, there’s one kind of transplant that involves an extremely small amount of tissue: a cornea transplant. 

While a cornea transplant isn’t a major organ transplant, it may be medically necessary in order to restore your vision. There are a few situations that require a cornea transplant, and in these situations, a transplant is considered the only way to reverse or prevent vision loss.

Keep reading to learn more about why you would need a cornea transplant, the different types of corneal transplants, and how a cornea transplant works!

Reasons to Have a Corneal Transplant

Some people require a cornea transplant when their cornea is significantly damaged due to injury or certain eye conditions. There are a few conditions that can damage your cornea over time. 

Fuch’s endothelial dystrophy is the most common corneal disease and can warp the shape of the cornea. Keratoconus is another corneal condition that can distort your cornea by causing it to bulge and thin.

Whether it’s due to a medical condition or injury, when the cornea becomes misshapen, cloudy, or distorted, it affects your ability to see. Refractive errors, like nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, are caused by very minor irregularities in the shape of the eye. 

These errors can be corrected with corrective lenses. However, when the cornea becomes misshapen enough that corrective lenses can no longer correct your vision, the only way to restore your vision is with a cornea transplant.

How a Corneal Transplant Works

A cornea transplant, or keratoplasty, is when your cornea, or parts of your cornea, are removed and replaced with tissue from a donor cornea. A whole cornea transplant is rare, so it’s more likely that only the damaged part of your cornea will need to be replaced.

In fact, it may be that only some of the layers of your cornea in a specific area will be replaced. The less tissue that’s removed and replaced, the smaller the chance of rejection.

Different Kinds of Corneal Transplants

To better understand the different kinds of corneal transplants, it’s helpful to know how the cornea is structured. The cornea is made up of five different layers.

At the surface is a thin layer called the epithelium. Below that is Bowman’s layer. Below Bowman’s layer is a very thick layer that makes up the majority of the cornea called the stroma. 

Then below that is another thin layer called Descemet’s membrane. Finally, the layer that separates the cornea from the rest of the eye is the endothelium. 

Penetrating Keratoplasty (PKP)

Penetrating keratoplasty is the traditional kind of cornea transplant that removes and replaces all the layers. A PKP may be used to treat a severely damaged cornea or an aggressive corneal condition.

Other kinds of cornea transplants can be used to treat different types of corneal conditions. 

Deep Anterior Lamellar Keratoplasty (DALK)

A deep anterior lamellar keratoplasty only removes the stroma down to Descemet’s membrane. Both DALK and PKP may be used to treat keratoconus, depending on the severity of the condition.

Endothelial Keratoplasty

At Chicago Cornea Consultants, we also offer an endothelial keratoplasty, where only the endothelial layer is removed and replaced. This can be used to treat Fuch’s endothelial dystrophy and failed previous corneal transplants. 

Do you want to learn more about cornea transplants and whether you may need one to treat an eye condition or injury? Schedule an appointment at Chicago Cornea Consultants in Chicago, IL, today to consult with one of our specialists.

LASIK eye surgery is a procedure that is designed to reduce your dependency on eyeglasses and contact lenses. Here at Chicago Cornea Consultants™, our LASIK surgeons and eye doctors use the latest in laser vision correction technology to ensure each patient receives optimal results.
Woman going for a run after LASIK
Laser Eye Surgery
As leaders in the field of ophthalmology, we were among the first in the area to offer the advanced Alcon LenSx laser platform for cataract surgery. This exciting new technology allows our skilled ophthalmologists to make incredibly precise modifications, enhancing the patient experience.
Elderly couple relaxing after Cataract Surgery
Advanced Cataract
Traditionally, presbyopia, which happens to all of us as we age, has always meant glasses for clear reading vision. It's a condition not even correctable by laser vision correction. Luckily, there is an option. Refractive lens exchange allows patients a clear alternative to reading glasses and is capable of reducing or eliminating presbyopia by using an advanced multifocal intraocular lens.
Refractive Lens Exchange
refractive lens
exchange/phakic iol's
Keratoconus describes a cornea that weakens as collagen fibers deteriorate, causing the cornea to adapt a cone-like shape. Keratoconus can cause blurred vision, light sensitivity, glares, and decreased night vision. In its early stages, keratoconus may be treated with the use of prescription glasses or contact lenses. Keratoconus is also one of the most common reasons for corneal transplant, and one of the most successful. Call any of our offices and ask to speak to the Vision Correction Surgical Coordinator, or use the contact form below.
Closeup of the Cornea
It's estimated that a million or more Americans have glaucoma and don't even know it. People with glaucoma often do not experience any symptoms until they begin losing their peripheral vision. One of the scariest things about glaucoma is that it usually has no symptoms in the early stages, earning glaucoma the name "silent thief of sight." Anyone can be at risk, so it's important to have your vision regularly examined.
Elderly couple smiling after Glaucoma treatment
At Chicago Cornea Consultants™, our doctors take great care in maintaining ocular health for our patients. However, a number of our patients voice concerns regarding soft lines and wrinkles around the eyes and other regions of the face. We have responded by introducing cosmetic procedures like BOTOX® Cosmetic through our Chicago practice.
Woman posing after BOTOX
Dry eye can result from a lack of sufficient production of your own natural tears, with an inability to provide adequate lubrication for your eyes. This can cause mild to severe discomfort including itching, stinging and burning. Dry eyes are a common concern in Chicago, and the experienced team of corneal specialists at Chicago Cornea Consultants™ have the latest advancements in technology to treat dry eye.
older woman smiling
Dry Eye
Contact lenses are medical devices which interact directly with the ocular surface of the eye. At Chicago Cornea Consultants™, we provide exceptional care to ensure that you obtain the best possible vision with contact lenses that fit appropriately and maximize health benefits.
Mature Man Having an Eye Exam
(800) 8-CORNEA
Online Bill Pay Book Now Cataract Self-Test LASIK Self-Test